Why should libraries have a presence within social media?
With over 62 per cent (Australian Interactive Media Association, 2011: Foreword) of Australian Internet users accessing some sort of social media at least three times a week, it would seem wise that libraries tap into this audience. To name a few, Twitter, Facebook or YouTube all present a low budget and relatively easy avenue to immediately access users and maintain a constant presence. Extending from the points mentioned in the above comparative table specific reasons include:
- Increase access and improve services
All three libraries provide ‘live help’ during business hours or maintain a social networking presence. This allows information professionals to respond promptly to inquiries, comments or criticisms. Charles Sturt University (2014) notes that by making their library services more accessible portrays that the University is committed to users and improving services.
- Encouraging valuable conversation
Social networking sites allow direct engagement with users. From these conversations, libraries may glean valuable information such as collection feedback, improvements, praise, warnings or general comments that portray the library as maintaining a human element. Via their Facebook site, Clarence Valley Library (2014) posts regular updates regarding the re-location of the library. Users are invited to suggest ideas for the new library design and contribute information about the new site. Such participation means the library is seen as a part of the local community and all input is answered and valued.
- Showing that the library is the information hub of the community
In addition to conversing with users, social media allows the library to extend resources beyond a physical collection. Sydney City Library tweets and posts to Facebook about community events such as ‘Earth Hour’ or local protest marches. Such efforts ensure that new users are attracted to the library as a hub of information and the library maintains a relevant place within the local community.
Australian Interactive Media Industry. (2011). Sensis: Social media report. Retrieved from http://about.sensis.com.au/ignitionsuite/uploads/docs/sensis%20social%20media%20report.pdf